Videogames and wellbeing

15 November 2013

Videogames and wellbeing
Videogames and wellbeing

To game or not to game - that is the question. Contrary to common perceptions, new research is suggesting there are definitely positive impacts associated with playing videogames. The research will be addressed at a Videogames and Wellbeing lecture to be held at the University of Sydney next week.

"Much has been made in the media of the extensive negative impacts of videogames. That they cause antisocial behaviour and are harmful to society," says Associate Professor Rafael Calvo from the School of Electrical and Information Engineering and host of the talk.

According to a recent survey as many as 94 per cent of children aged 6-15 play videogames regularly with the same figure representing the number of Australian homes that have at least one device used for playing videogames.

"While researchers and healthcare professionals continue to debate whether and when videogames are harmful, there are research results indicating video gaming may have more of a positive impact on a person's wellbeing than previously thought," says Professor Calvo.

"People talk a lot about technologies being good or bad for us--phones, social media, video games--but it's never that simplistic. Technologies impact our wellbeing in positive and negative ways, depending in part on how they're designed.

The fact is, we need to start measuring and understanding this impact better so we can design future technology that actively promotes wellbeing and human potential," says Professor Calvo.

Professor Calvo also leads the Software Engineering educational programs at University of Sydney that now include a Master of Engineering - with a Software Engineering major that focuses on engineering for health and wellbeing.

The talk, to be given by special guest speaker Dr Daniel Johnson, director of the Games Research and Interaction Design Lab at QUT and director of the Gaming Research Group at the Young and Well Cooperative Research Centre, will explore videogames and their positive influence on wellbeing such as the predictors of hours spent playing videogames; the genres, modes of play and experiences during play that influence wellbeing; the predictors of obsessive and harmonious passion for play; the influence of videogame on mood; and the differences in brain activity associated with playing with humans versus Artificial intelligence (AI) controlled teammates. Daniel has completed Bachelors and Honours degrees in Psychology, a Graduate Certificate in Higher Education and a doctorate on the psychology of human-computer interactions and videogames.

Dr Johnson has also worked in the games industry for companies such as NextGenVideos and The Binary Mill. He is an affiliate of the University of Cambridge Well-being Institute. His research interests are motivations for videogame play and the impact of videogames on wellbeing.


When:Tuesday 19 November
4pm - 5pm
Where:Lecture Theatre 450
School of Electrical and Information Engineering.
University of Sydney

Associate Professor Rafael Calvo and Dr Daniel Johnson available for interviews

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Media Contact: Victoria Hollick, 02 9351 2579, 0401 711 361,